Reading Fire Chief Gregory Burns wasn’t directly impacted by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Still, he vividly remembers the sights, sounds, and helpless feeling of a day of terror.
“I still remember the day clearly, as most people do,” said Burns. “I remember how everything changed so suddenly with those horrific events.”
Wednesday marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that didn’t take the lives of any Reading residents, but still impacted many. According to Burns, the cousin of one department member was killed during the attacks.
For Burns and many other firefighters, the attacks hit close to home knowing that as first responders, they must be prepared for anything at any time.
“Your heart went out to the people,” said Burns. “The firefighters and police officers that responded to the buildings, they were heavily involved in fire on the upper floors (of the Twin Towers) and they had to walk up to that area. Many of those guys knew they weren’t going to come out of that building, but they had to go in.”
In the aftermath of the attacks, New York City firefighters had so many funerals to attend, that they lacked proper coverage for their stations at times. So Reading firefighters and others from across the country made the trip to New York to assist in any way they could.
For Burns, no matter the number of years that go by, it remains difficult to grasp the events of that fateful day. Burns also said the attacks proved what firefighters and other first responders are well aware of when they sign up.
“It’s something everyone knows. Even on a routine call, something can change and it can change quickly,” said Burns.
What do you recall from the day of the September 11 attacks? What emotions does this day evoke in you each year? Do you believe Reading should create an annual event remembering the victims? Let us know in the comments section below.